21st. Century Plant Hunters in Vietnam

Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones travelled from Crug Farm Plants in North Wales to talk to Ticknall Garden Club at their January meeting. They diversified from farming in 1991 to the cultivation and sale of garden plants. Along with Kew Gardens they are the only people in England with a licence to bring back seeds and live plants into this country.

Plants have to stay in quarantine for 12 months before they can be used for propagation purposes. Since then they have become world renowned for travelling the world in search of rare and unusual plants to propagate in their own nursery.

They have explored most of Asia and much of Central America and neighbouring Colombia. Before setting off they have to gain the necessary permits needed in that country and source knowledgeable guides and employ sufficient porters to carry their equipment. They gave a vivid account of one such expedition to Vietnam. They struggled through dense forests and climbed steep mountainsides in their successful search for new plants. Porters carried camping equipment along with fresh fruit, vegetables and live chickens.

Their first area of search was that of Fransipan where they found new types of magnolia, viburnum, daphne and schefflera. Sarcococca bleddynii and viburnum fansipanense demonstrate the source of such discoveries. At the second summit of their climb they found a welcome newly protected area but were disturbed to find expanding clusters of buildings and a cable car for tourist access.

Their second area of exploration was Y Ty on the Chinese border. Great care had to be taken not to encroach into China. Here among jungle clearings they found many new species of aspidistra as well as lillium, acer and polyspora. They were concerned about the amount of deforestation in the area as wood was used for fuel and dwellings for an expanding population. They feared that many rare plants may already have disappeared.

With lovely photographs of a wide array of their plant discoveries, Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones amply proved why they have justly earned their reputation as renowned plant hunters.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all the intrepid plant hunters of the past who found the lovely range of interesting plants we enjoy today. None more so then the exotic and wonderful plants we can have in our home, greenhouse and conservatory. These will be the subject of Ticknall Garden Club’s next talk on Tuesday February 13th at 7.30 pm with guest speaker Philip Aubury.

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